This editorial was to have run the first of the week, but something named Dorian got in the way.
Florida International University just released a study on Florida’s labor force, showing a generally good picture of the workforce over the past decade, but not all the news was good — or, from where we sit, unexpected.
Florida’s 10 million workers showed a 3.5% unemployment rate as of July. Interestingly, the working age population increased by nearly 3 million over the decade, to 17.5 million. Do the math.
Over the past decade the gap between Florida's labor force participation rate and that of the nation has widened from a difference of 2.6 percentage points to 3.9 percentage points to 59.1% and 63% respectively.
Since 2009, our workforce has become more diverse, according to the study. Hispanics grew from 21% then to 27% today. The black workforce showed smaller gains, up 1.2% in the past decade, from 14.2% to 15.4%.
The percentage of white workers declined from a 61% majority in 2009 to 53.5% in this year.
The highest average hourly wage among MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Area) in 2018 was in Jacksonville (which includes St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach) at $27.61.
The share of workers aged 55 and older has increased from 20.8% to 25.3%, reflecting the aging of the broader population.
From 2009 to 2018, the share of workers with a bachelor's degree or higher increased from 30.2 to 35.5%.
In 2018, white workers had an unemployment rate of 2.8% compared to 6.4% for African Americans.
The disparity in unemployment rates between college and non-high school completers is 2.2 and 7.1% respectively as of 2018.
The largest employing industries in the state continue to be Professional and Business Services, Leisure and Hospitality, Retail Trade, Health Care and Social Assistance and Government. Together, these five industries account for nearly 68% of all jobs in the state in 2018, over 6.1 million jobs.
Since 2009, Leisure and Hospitality continues to have the lowest average hourly wage among major industries — $15.71 per hour in 2018.
Statewide, the average hourly wage for private industry was $21.61 in 2009 and $24.81 in 2018.
The study concluded a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, combined with increasing public funding for public education (both K-12 and higher education), will help create “family-sustaining jobs, while developing the industrial capacity of areas throughout the state that are in dire need of investment.”
See the study at labor.fiu.edu/publications/state-of-working-florida/state-of-working-florida-2019-final-82819.pdf.